STARKVILLE, Tenn. - A three-run eighth inning enabled 14th-ranked Tennessee to complete a three-game sweep of Mississippi State on Sunday afternoon, 5-3.
Freshman Monica Abbott went the distance, and moved over the 300-strikeout plateau on the season, to run her mark to 23-4 on the campaign. Sophomore Katherine Card provided the go-ahead single in extra frames as the Lady Vols (26-8, 7-4 SEC) claimed all three outings from the Bulldogs (20-16, 2-10 SEC) for the first time.
Senior Lauren Mattox cranked a one-out double down the right field line off freshman pitcher Stephanie Comeaux in the second inning and advanced to third on a base-hit by classmate Angela Brewer. Sophomore Mandie Fishback lined out to the MSU second baseman but a poor throw attempting to turn an inning-ending double play allowed Mattox to come home with an unearned run to break the ice.
Sophomore Kristi Durant started the fourth with a single up the middle and senior Amber Rhinehart laid down a sacrifice bunt to advance sophomore pinch runner Kim Anders. A collision at first base enabled Anders to occupy third base. Mattox was hit by a pitch to give the Lady Vols runners on the corners but Brewer grounded into a 6-4-3 double play to keep the margin at 1-0.
Bulldog senior All-American Iyhia McMichael unleashed a leadoff double in the bottom of the frame and senior Jennifer Waterman dropped in a Texas Leaguer to give the hosts two runners on base. Abbott retired freshman Katie Johnson on a fly ball to right field but senior Lindsay Nelson dragged a bunt for a double to tie the score and leave MSU with runners on second and third. The Lady Vol left-hander responded by fanning both senior Blaire Brown and senior pinch hitter Brandi Watkins.
Sophomore Sarah Fekete slapped a hit to start the eighth and moved to second on Schutzler's sacrifice. Card came through with a clutch single into center to score Fekete and alertly took second on the relay throw to the plate. Durant followed with another base-hit to provide the Lady Vols with a 4-2 advantage. Rhinehart continued the offensive barrage with a single into right to spell the end of the afternoon for Massey. Mattox welcomed rookie reliever Kelli Miller with a single up the middle to fill the bases and Brewer lofted a sacrifice fly into right field to boost the margin to 5-2. McMichael, the 2003 SEC Player of the Year, later pulled the 'Dogs to within 5-3 on her seventh homer of the season, a leadoff shot over the center field wall.
Abbott totaled 10 strikeouts for her 19th double-digit K outing of the campaign and allowed seven hits and three runs. MSU's Melissa Massey (8-7) was on the hook for the defeat after giving up six hits and four runs over 3.1 innings. Card and Durant were 2-for-4 for Tennessee, while Mattox was a perfect 2-for-2. McMichael was a strong 3-for-4 and scored three runs for State.
Tennessee will begin an 11-game homestand on Wednesday with a doubleheader at 4 p.m. versus Austin Peay. The Lady Vols will host the Lady Vol Classic from Friday through Sunday against Gardner-Webb, Liberty, Tennessee Tech and UTEP. The next SEC series for the Weeklys' club will be against No. 15 South Carolina at Tyson Park on March 30 and 31.
Softball sweeps MSU behind Abbott's three win weekend
Published: Mon Mar 22, 2004 | Modified: Sat Aug 06, 2005 05:57 p.m.